Hervey Bay Pound troubles

August 13th, 2014

Dear Mayor, Councillors and CEO.

I am sure that all of you shared the sadness and horror that has been felt by people far and wide when the pictures of the poor dead and casually discarded Hervey Bay pound pets were shared publicly. I think the only person not distressed would be the person(s) responsible.

I have listened to and read your response Mr Mayor and sadly I find your words hypocritical. I heard you say that Animal Compliance is probably the hardest area of responsibility that Council has to deal with. I totally agree with you. But why then do you not properly fund your pound system?

I know from first hand experience the heartbreak involved in coping with the large numbers of unwanted pets that so sadly end up in cages at the pounds. In my time at Council, and while working with Pet Warriors, we improved things just slightly. We introduced Fraser Coast Pets so pound pet pics could go straight to Facebook via staff IPads. We budgeted to build the new pound which is now done.

But what did we fail to do? We failed to ensure that Council employed trained and dedicated full time Pound Staff. We continue to expect our hard working Compliance Officers to deal with a myriad of compliance complaints as well as dealing with dogs and cats! Not only do we expect these staff who are often untrained in Animal Management, to do this heartbreaking work day after day and night after night we then provide inadequate administrative back up.

The number of times that animals are in the pound but not ‘on the system’ and the lack of cross checking owner data and the absolute hopelessness of the Council software system to even manage the data is another major fail!

We have failed to properly fund and install dedicated software that can record and retrieve all that needs to be recorded to ensure pets are given the very best chance of making it out of the pound alive! This software is not very expensive but we need enough staff trained and given the time to use it, otherwise it is useless!

Sadly in Hervey Bay our largest Animal Refuge is run more like a private business rather than a charitable member driven organisation and this group have never had a policy of desexing the pets that it sells. Council cannot, and must not, depend on volunteer groups such as this to assist in pet rehoming.

Your current Council had made some giant leaps forward by introducing tougher Local Laws in relation to pet ownership and pet breeding but I fear these Laws are useless as Council has not properly resourced staff to ensure these new Laws are being enforced.

Please Councillors do the right thing. Do not abdicate your responsibility to overworked and untrained staff. Appoint a Pound Manager who works solely to ensure all pound pets have the best chance of finding a loving home and that all pets entering the pound are treated well. If some pets must die to make sure that they are given a dignified death.

It is not good enough to offer any rescue group or individual a paltry amount of funding (approx $18k) per year, to manage the facility and provide access 7 days a week. It is not OK to have opening hours that ensure workers cannot get to the pound. It is not OK to have to make an appointment to see your pet. It is not OK to partner with anyone or any group who does not desex pets for rehoming and that does not provide proof of this back to Council. It is not OK to expect local rescue groups and hard working dedicated volunteers to do your job for you without adequate support and adequate monitoring.

So please, please, please stop the rot and properly fund your Animal Management team. Amend your budget now. The animals should not have to pay for the inadequacies of our fellow human beings with their lives!

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